Monday, September 1, 2003

Using Cheat Sheets to get ahead

THIS WEEK'S POWERTIP

By Dan Velasco

So, you'd like to create a new Web application or Struts-based Web application using WebSphere Studio, but you're not sure where to start. If only you could look over the shoulder of a WebSphere expert and do what he or she does. In other words, you'd like to cheat.

The good news is that WebSphere Studio V5 not only makes it possible to cheat, IBM gives you "Cheat Sheets" to show you how.

It's very simple to access Cheat Sheets in WebSphere Studio. Be prepared to spend some time playing with them, because they're very informative and interesting. To access the Cheat Sheets, go to Help --> Cheat Sheets and then choose either "Create a Struts-based Web application" or "Create a Web application." You're now on your way to learning from someone who's been there before. What's especially cool about the Cheat Sheets is that they not only tell you what steps need to be completed, they provide links to launch the appropriate wizard/screen in order to accomplish those steps.

If you choose the Struts-based Web application option, you'll see the Cheat Sheets view as shown in Figure A.

FIGURE A

You can see information about each step. (click for larger image)

Note that I've expanded each of the sections so you can see the information about each step the Cheat Sheet will guide you through. To start, simply click on the arrow in the Introduction section which is highlighted in red.

At the start of each of the steps, you'll see another arrow that will help you launch the corresponding wizard/screen in WebSphere Studio. If you ever lose the Cheat Sheets view, you can return to it by clicking the Cheat Sheets icon on the shortcut bar on the left.

By following the Cheat Sheet for a Struts-based Web application, you'll encounter what I think is one of the coolest features of WebSphere Studio: the ability to create a Web Diagram of a Struts-enabled application. This allows you to plan out the pages, actions, form beans and relationships of your applications visually without having to do any coding.

Once you're done with the application you can then "realize" each of the elements in the diagram by double-clicking on their icons to create them. You can see an example of a simple Web Diagram in Figure B.

FIGURE B

Here's an example of a simple Web Diagram. (click for larger image)

Note the toolbar icons that are highlighted in red, which can be used to create the different elements of your application.

Cheat Sheets can help give you a jump start on your project or just help you learn more about using WebSphere Studio. As always, remember that when you're using WebSphere Studio you're using a powerful tool, and while you could do a lot of these steps manually, you can do them faster and with fewer errors by using tools like the Cheat Sheets.

Sometimes it just feels so good to cheat.